I'm looking 55 right in the face, and there are times now that I find myself reflecting on my life, and my upbringing. Then I take a look at the way things are now, and all I can say is...
What happened to the America I grew up in? When did it change so much? When did we become so enamoured of the European/Socialistic way of life? When did we become more caring about how other countries viewed us rather than standing strong and resolute as a great nation? When did the populace become so weak as to allow our rights to be taken away? When did we allow government to dictate to us, rather than being our servant? When did we allow our children to become a generation of coddled, entitled, undisciplined miscreants unable and unwilling to accept responsibility for their actions? When did we become so rude and crass as to viciously attack others whose opinions varied from our own?
A few years ago, in one of my books, I coined a slightly-profane term to describe people of my age group and older; people that can remember a different time in America. A time when we were proud to BE Americans. As children, we could ride our bikes in our neighborhoods (without helmets, knee pads, etc) and have no worries of being abducted or molested, because neighbors looked out for one another. We had manners. We had respect for our elders. We said 'Please' and 'Thank you.' We paid attention in school because we knew that if we didn't, there would be dire consequences.
We attended church without shame, and we said Grace before meals. We respected differences of opinion. We knew our neighbors. We practiced charity at home FIRST. We supported our brave troops in distant lands. We punished those who committed crimes and respected the rights of the victims. We were strong. We were the United States of America.
What happened? What changed? When did we decide to go against the principals that our great nation was founded upon? Why do criminals have more rights than the victims? Why are non-citizen enemy combatants allowed to face trial under laws that are only for American citizens? Why are the nutcases allowed to commit heinous crimes and receive light sentences because they are deemed 'not responsible for their actions?' Why do we stand idly by and allow our rights to be taken away, little by little, by out-of-touch 'Rock Stars' that have been elected based on style rather than substance?
We took a 'feel good' approach to raising our children. No longer could we discipline them for fear of being accused of 'abuse.' Rather, we gave them 'Time out', and allowed TV and video games to be their primary sources of learning societal 'values.' We took God out of the schools for fear that someone might be offended. We restricted the authority of teachers to provide discipline when needed. We began caring more about the views of other countries and dumping billions of OUR tax dollars into aid to nations that have corrupt governments and then do things to place our brave men and women serving there in danger.
We take all aspects of the media as truth, despite the fact that much of it is Op/Ed disguised as 'objective', and swoon at the ideology beamed into our homes each evening, or on the 24-hour 'News' services. We accept ALL media bias as 'truth', rather than questioning it. We celebrate celebrity. We worship technology, intertwining our lives in it. We know more about the Kardashians and the contestants on 'Dancing With the Stars' than we do about our next door neighbors. We care more about answering texts during mealtime than we do about talking to one another. We blame guns for violence, rather than the disturbed individuals that initiate the act. We desire to take away the rights of the law-abiding, rather than move toward stricter laws and punishment designed to curb violence by criminals.
We listen to fear-mongering and 'Chicken Little' views spouted out by our 'leaders' and take it in as fact without researching the truths behind the issues (which is odd, because we research everything from washing machines to MP-3 Players). We discipline students for refusing to say the pledge of allegiance for OTHER COUNTRIES, yet see our own Pledge removed from schools all over the nation, for fear it might 'offend.' We've made 'Diversity', one of the building blocks of our nation, where it now stands separate, rather than coming together to form the whole.
America has changed, and for people of my age group, this change seemed to have occurred overnight, without warning. Perhaps it's because we allowed ourselves to become too soft, too out-of-touch with the direction our country was moving toward. We stopped getting involved. We stopped going to the polls to cast our vote, thinking "It doesn't matter." We became too comfortable in our lives. We (wrongly) believed that our nation would continue to hold the values it was founded upon.
Our country is still the greatest nation on earth, but in order for it to remain so, we have to get back in touch with the values and principals it was founded upon. We need to quit being lazy and comfortable. We need to speak out. We need to stand up for our belief system. For if we don't, a few years from now, people in other countries will be asking:
"Whatever happened to the United States of America?"
"Oh, it's a part of the EU now. China's using it for their strategic military bases."
Sic vis Pacem, Parabellum,
J. Wiley Dumas